MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More Minnesotans are returning to work as the state’s unemployment rates decreased last month, according to numbers released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

DEED reported Minnesota gained 17,100 jobs in September, up 0.6%, and its private sector another 17,700, for a 0.7% gain. Since September, the U.S. overall has gained 194,000 jobs.

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The unemployment rate in Minnesota ticked down to almost 4% in September due to people moving out of unemployment. Similarly, the U.S. employment rate fell to 4.8% in the same month. However, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate increased to 68%.

From February through April of 2020, Minnesota lost over 400,000 jobs and has since gained back 70% of the jobs lost.

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“Job growth is up, and so are wages – that’s a good thing,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “Still, our labor market is incredibly tight, and our agency is committed to continuing to invest in innovative partnerships and solutions to help businesses find workers.”

According to the report, average wages in Minnesota and nationally have gone up significantly over the past year as a result of the tight labor market. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 4% and since September 2019, it’s doubled. DEED also reports that over the year, payroll jobs are up 4% and employment rose over the year in all Minnesota metropolitan areas.

DEED reports that the employment impact of the pandemic on workers has been difficult to measure. The pandemic caused some people to drop out of the work force, lowering labor force participation, which resulted in an unemployment rate below the expected, given job losses.

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